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Nonimmigrant Visa Issues

As an international student am I required to obtain a certain visa? Most international students who study at WFU in a full-time academic program do so with an F-1 visa. However, if you will be coming to study in the U.S. for only one semester as part of an exchange program, you will be need to obtain a J-1 visa. The Center for Global Programs and Studies is here to help and will issue the appropriate documentation for your visa category.

Special Note for Canadian Citizens: Citizens of Canada are not required to obtain a Machine Readable Visa stamp in order to enter the U.S. as an F-1/J-1 student. This rule, however, does not apply to landed immigrants of Canada.

Obtaining an F-1 Visa

1) Obtain Form I-20: Once you have been accepted to the University and have proven that you have the available financial means necessary to fund your studies, you will be issued a Form I-20. This form will allow you to apply for an F-1 student visa at the nearest U.S. Embassy/Consulate.

2) Pay SEVIS I-901 fee: After you receive Form I-20, you will need to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. This fee is used to pay administrative costs associated with the SEVIS computer system. This fee can be paid in a variety of ways, including online using a major credit card. F-1 students will need to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee prior to his/her visa interview at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate.

Detailed information on the fee and the various payment methods can be found at: SEVIS Fee Information Page

3) Schedule your visa interview: From some countries, an appointment can be scheduled online. Others will need to do so by telephone. Before going for your visa interview, you should be aware of all documentation that is required by the specific Embassy/Consulate you will be visiting. Procedures and practices vary from country to country, so make sure that you check the EmbassyConsulate’s Web site prior to your visit. Please keep in mind that you can apply for the visa as soon as you receive your I-20 and pay the I-901 fee. You are advised to apply as early as possible to avoid any delays caused by a large number of students applying at once, background checks, etc.

4) Initial entry into the U.S. Once you have obtained your F-1 visa, you may make an initial entry to the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the start date listed on your I-20. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO ENTER THE U.S. MORE THAN 30 DAYS PRIOR TO THIS DATE.

If you have unique circumstances that necessitate an earlier entry, please inform the Center for Global Programs and Studies as soon as possible to see if we can accommodate your request.

Requesting a Change of Nonimmigrant Status within the U.S.

If you are currently residing in the U.S. in another nonimmigrant status and you wish to change your status to the F-1 category, you will need to file form I-539 “Change of Nonimmigrant Status” with USCIS Service Center that has jurisdiction over your current place of residence. The Center for International studies will assist you with your application for a change of status.

Instructions on how to apply for a change of status can be found on the following page:

Change of Status Information Page

If you are currently residing in the U.S. in F-2, B-1, or B-2 status, you are not allowed to attend classes as a regular, degree-seeking student until the I-539 has been approved by the USCIS.

Visa Troubles/Denials

If you are denied a visa from a U.S. Embassy/Consulate, you should contact the Center for Global Programs and Studies immediately. Please keep in mind that the office can only provide limited assistance on such matters, but we will attempt to do everything possible to make sure that you obtain your student visa in a timely manner.

Informative Web Sites

The following Department of State web site contains useful information as it pertains to obtaining a nonimmigrant student visa and traveling to the U.S.:

Student Visas